NAMI California Annual Conference 2015

2015 Conference 5NAMI California held its annual conference August 21 and 22 at the Marriott Newport Beach Hotel and Spa. The program was excellent, the speakers were inspiring, and the awards granted were well deserved. The conference and workshops addressed key topic areas from changes and progress in criminal justice to advocacy at the local, state and federal levels.

2015 Conference 3Speakers included Patrick Corrigan, William Beardslee, Waynee Lucero, Sam Cochran, Judge Lawrence Brown, Andrew Sperling, Mark Refowitz, Deandre Evans, Stan Collins, Gary Bess and Joseph Robinson. Powerpoints for many of the workshops can be found by CLICKING HERE. CDs and MP3s of the conference can be FOUND HERE. The full program agenda describing the topics discussed and sessions held can be seen HERE.

2015 Conference 4NAMI California is dedicated to the strengthening of local grass roots organizations. We provide updated information and support to local affiliates and are here to help organize new affiliates. NAMI California has 71 local affiliates and represents 19,000 people to the California Legislature and Governor on mental illness issues. NAMI California educates families, professionals and the public about the recent explosion of scientific evidence that shows serious mental illnesses are neurobiological brain disorders. NAMI California works to provide a strong, coherent system that offers a continuum of care for the persistent, long-term needs of people with mental illness. NAMI California advocates for increased research to uncover causes and new, effective treatments. NAMI California strives to eradicate stigma.

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Tell Congress to Help New Veterans Keep the Mental Health Medications They Need!

vlad_g - DPCWhen someone is in treatment for a mental illness, it is common to go through several different trials of medication until they find the one that helps them feel better. It can take time to find a medicine that works for you. The slightest change could set someone back or even cause further illness. Now imagine if you are a service member who has found that right combination. You are feeling better and your medication is working. The way things stand now, if you decide to transition out of service and into veteran status, your medication might not transfer with you.

This is unacceptable. 

With an alarmingly high suicide rate of 22 veterans dying each day and countless others struggling, we simply cannot allow for delays in treatment, endless appeals or the risk of being switched away from a proven effective medication for serious conditions such as depression, anxiety or psychosis. Our veterans deserve better.

Write a letter to your congressman, ask them to co-sponsor H.R. 2123 the Enhancing Veterans Access to Treatment Act. Tell them it is not ok to take away a medication that works for a service member simply because they transitioned out of service.

Take Action

Thank you for advocating for passage of this important bill!

Directing Change Contest Submission Deadline: February 1, 2015

Students throughout California are invited to Direct Change by submitting 60-second films to spread awareness about suicide prevention and ending the silence associated with mental illness. The winning teams and their associated schools will win cash prizes, receive mental health or suicide prevention programs for their schools, get to participate in a meeting with state legislators on these topics, and attend the award ceremony at the end of the 2014-15 school year. Directing Change is part of statewide efforts to prevent suicide, reduce stigma and discrimination related to mental illness, and to promote the mental health and wellness of students. These initiatives are funded by the voter-approved Mental Health Services Act (Prop 63) and administered by the California Mental Health Services Authority (CalMHSA).

NAMI California is excited to announce the expansion of the education and training component of The Directing Change Student Film Contest! This year, Directing Change is offering an Ending the Silence presentation and suicide prevention programs to students who intend on submitting entries into the contest. There are also additional resources for participants, parents and school advisors. The Directing Change Team will be offering a monthly newsletter to keep participants up-to-date with all developments about the contest and various mental health and suicide prevention topics through articles, educational videos, and current events. Educational films that discuss various mental health and suicide prevention topics will also be released for participants on a monthly basis. The films can be used to provide more information to students and teachers to help inspire the film-making process! Check out the October films about the Mental Health Continuum, mental illness, and stigma:

To subscribe to The Advocate: Directing Change newsletter, please visit

Visit the campaign website for contest rules and information: .

Submission Deadlines: February 1, 2015.

Have questions about Directing Change? Contact Lauren Hee at or 916-567-0163.

Expert Speaker Meeting with NAMI Urban Los Angeles

NAMI Urban Los Angeles will hold its monthly Expert Speakers Night tomorrow, July 3, from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m., focusing on mental health issues affecting the community. Thursday night’s expert speaker is Dr. Karen S. Gunn, leader of Gunn Consulting Group and Professor at Santa Monica College on:

Creating Change through Community Voices: The “Value” of Community Research and Family Input

Dr. Karen S. Gunn is a tenured professor at Santa Monica College and leads Gunn Consulting Group. She has worked for over three decades in the community mental health field. As a consultant with the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health, she has conducted numerous community research projects, training programs, needs assessments and strategic planning efforts. Her expertise includes cultural competency, intercultural communicaton, social justice and leadership development.

NAMI Urban Los Angeles is the urban affiliate of NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness. It is a non-profit, grassroots, self-help, volunteer organization. It provides education support and advocacy for families and their loved ones dealing with mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, major depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety disorders among others. NAMI Urban Los Angeles was founded in 2003. It provides education about severe brain disorders, supports increased funding for research and advocates for adequate health insurance, housing rehabilitation and jobs for people with serious psychiatric illnesses in communities of color. It also seeks to educate the public about the myths of mental illness to eradicate stigma. NAMI Urban Los Angeles seeks to be a beacon of hope in the community it serves.

For more information about the meeting or about NAMI Urban Los Angeles, please visit its site at: 


May is Mental Health Awareness Month

It is a time to remember that mental health is part of overall health. Mental health affects thought processes, relationships, productivity and the ability to adapt to changes in circumstances or cope with adversity.

So does mental illness.

One in four adults experience mental health problems in any given year. Those problems can contribute to onset of more serious long-term conditions. One in 17 adults lives with mental illness such as major depression, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. Approximately one-half of chronic mental illness begins by the age of 14 and three-quarters by age 24.  Unfortunately, long delays−sometimes decades−often occur between the time symptoms first appear and when people get help.

Mental Health Awareness Month a time to learn to recognize early symptoms of mental illness and the importance of talking about concerns with a doctor or mental health professionals. Early identification and treatment can make a big difference for successful management of a condition.

For example, major depression is a mood disorder that is more serious than “feeling blue” or temporary sadness. Some people may experience it only once, but more than half have at least one additional episode over their lifetimes. Be alert to any combinations of the following symptoms:

  • Depressed mood (sadness)
  • Poor concentration
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Disturbance of appetite
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Thoughts of suicide

Bipolar disorder involves cycles of both depression and mania.  It is different from the “ups and downs” that most people experience, involving dramatic shifts in mood, energy and ability to think clearly. Symptoms also are not the same in everyone; some people may experience intense “highs,” while others primarily experience depression. Mania involves combinations of the following symptoms:

  • Euphoria
  • Surges of energy
  • Reduced need for sleep
  • Grandiosity
  • Talkativeness
  • Extreme irritability
  • Agitation
  • Pleasure-seeking
  • Increased risk-taking behavior

Schizophrenia is a different type of mental illness, but can include features of mood disorders. It affects a person’s ability to think clearly, manage emotions, make decisions and relate to other people. Untreated, it also may include psychosis–a loss of contact with reality. Symptoms include:

  • Difficulty with memory
  • Difficulty in organizing thoughts
  • Lack of content in speech
  • Emotional flatness
  • Inability to start or follow through with activities
  • Inability to experience pleasure
  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations

Other types of mental illness include attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety disorders (including posttraumatic stress disorder), borderline and personality disorder. Mental Health Awareness Month is a time to learn about them. One resource is the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) which offers information through its website and HelpLine 1-800-950-NAMI (6264). With affiliates in hundreds of communities nationwide, NAMI also offers free education classes and support groups to individuals and families affected by mental illness.

Anyone who experiences symptoms of mental illness should see a doctor for a focused discussion about mental health concerns and assessment of potentially related physical conditions. The next step may be referral to mental health specialist. A range of treatment options exist. Education and connecting with others who have walked the same path or are facing similar issues also can play an important role

During Mental Health Awareness Month, please also talk about what you learn with family, friends and others. Help end the silence and stigma around mental illness that discourages people from getting help. This is a month to make a difference in our communities.

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NAMI Urban Los Angeles May 1 Meeting–African American Issues regarding Treatment

GetMapOntson Placide, MA, LMFT, will speak on African American Issues regarding Treatment; historical barriers, current barriers, treatment recommendations this coming Thursday May 1, 2014 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at 4305 Degnan Blvd., Suite 104 in Los Angeles.

Ontson Placide has an extensive career spanning over 27 years experience in both the Mental Health and Social Services field including; program development, administrative systems development, financial and quality assurance development. Currently he is the Administrator for Star View Children and Family Services Wraparound and Non Profit Programs. He is also responsible for other non-profit programs, including High Risk High Need which serves Juvenile Probation youth in the community, and Family Preservation Services, & Up Front Assessment program serving Child Welfare referred families to prevent possible detainment, and lastly the Department of Mental Health’s Intensive Field Capable Clinical Services which works to mitigate safety risks of youth falling in and out of the foster care system.

Previously he was the Director, and Clinical Director for the City of Long Beach, Center for Families and Youth of which over the years he was administratively and clinically responsible for several social service programs operating within the City of Long Beach. Since 1990, Mr. Placide has also continued his clinical, training, and consulting practice specializing with adolescents and families. He has also worked extensively with adolescents and their families in settings ranging from locked psychiatric facilities to group home and outpatient programs. Mr. Placide received his Bachelors Degree in Psychology from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in 1987 and a Masters Degree in Clinical Counseling Psychology in 1989 at Pepperdine University. He has been licensed in the State of California as a Marriage and Family Therapist since 1992.

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Take a Stand with Halle Berry and NAMI


NAMI shapes the way America understands mental illness. We turn stigma into understanding and despair into hope. It takes courage to stand up and thousands to speak out.

Help shed light on mental illness. See Halle Berry’s interview with NAMI HERE.

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